Thrown a Curveball: Baseball Player Christian Glisson’s Short Game

Thrown a Curveball: Baseball Player Christian Glisson’s Short Game

It’s been five years now since Christian Glisson completed a brief career in baseball that had a promising start. His high school career ran from 2004 until 2008 and was highlighted by numerous awards and accolades. Glisson was a two-sport athlete in those years, initially shining at Tift County High School before transferring to Lowndes High and continuing both baseball and football. Memorable moments included helping Tift County’s baseball team reach the state Final Four with his two-out, two-strike, game-winning homerun against Starrs Mill High School — then the number-two-ranked team in the country. Glisson would also help the Lowndes High football team win a state championship in 2007. However, it was his undeniable baseball prowess that eventually landed him a scholarship to attend The University of Georgia and play baseball for the Bulldogs.

With baseball officially his main focus, Glisson began working doggedly on his skills and technique. He was a catcher, a physically demanding position that involves handling pitchers and overseeing the alignment of other defensive players behind the pitcher. In essence, the catcher is considered the “quarterback” of a baseball team.

While preparing for his senior season at Lowndes, Glisson accepted the invitation from The University of Georgia’s then-coach David Perno to come and work with kids who had signed up for the school’s annual baseball camp. The camp is a fundraising event that allows young, aspiring baseball players the opportunity to work with UGA players and coaches. Glisson said he “jumped at the chance” to go to Athens, meet some of his future teammates and teach baseball to the young players.

But when he received the invitation, it was not baseball season. It was, as Glisson recalled, “about a week before Christmas.”

“It was cold — very cold,” he recalled. “I think it was 19 degrees, with a howling wind. It wasn’t a very good day to play baseball, and I had never enjoyed playing baseball in the cold weather.”

Still, Glisson had already committed to teaching at the camp, and he knew they were counting on him. “Everyone knew who I was, as I had been a highly recruited baseball and football player,” he said. “I was known for having a good throwing arm, which is a big reason UGA signed me.”

Glisson recalled trying to warm up with his teammates before they would begin working with the campers. “We threw some warm-up tosses for just a little bit, before one of the coaches called us over to speak to some of the campers. We stopped warming up and went over and hung out with the catcher coach and some of the other guys there for about an hour,” he said.

As the session began, Glisson was asked to throw a few balls down to second base. “I felt a pop, and I knew something was wrong,” he shared. “But I knew all eyes were on me, so I kept trying to throw. My next throw floated out of my hand and landed over between first and second base — way off the mark.”

Just like that, Glisson had injured his elbow. But when the X-ray image of his elbow didn’t indicate any tissue or ligament damage, Glisson began pursuing a series of holistic treatments, including injections of vitamins C and B-12, collagen, glucosamine and various other anti-inflammatory agents. Unfortunately, the elbow pain didn’t get any better.

Finally, in late March of the following year, Glisson and his parents decided to consult a well-known orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews. Dr. Andrews examined the elbow and recommended surgery — a procedure known as “Tommy John surgery,” or collateral ligament reconstruction. Dr. Andrews told the family that Glisson’s injury was likely caused by “overuse.” Still, Glisson felt hopeful about the future of his arm.

“I had spoken with several guys and heard from countless others who said that after having had the surgery, they were actually stronger than before,” he explained.

Following his surgery and rehab, Glisson would join his teammates in Athens. Unfortunately, he wasn’t really able to contribute except for a few bats — the average recovery time for patients of Tommy John surgery is anywhere from eight months to one year. Between his slow recovery time and wasted freshman season due to not meeting redshirt criteria, Glisson decided to return to Valdosta, enrolling at Valdosta State University.

The move turned out to be a good one, as Glisson was named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Year in 2012. However, the lingering effects of his arm injury would keep him from being drafted by a major league team. He would give it one more try, playing in the independent league, but Glisson ultimately decided five years ago that he was done with baseball.

Today, Glisson is in medical device sales, working as an account manager with Phillips. He is a full-time dad to his son Christian, age 6, and he and his fianceé are expecting a second child in 2021 — certainly a home run of a different kind.

 

Written by: Phil Jones

Photography submitted by: Christian Glisson

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